Modern English Football Hooliganism: A Quantitative Exploration in Criminological Theory
Wallace, Rich A.
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Studies of football hooliganism have developed in a number of academic disciplines, yet little of this literature directly relates to criminology. The fighting, disorderly conduct, and destructive behavior of those who attend football matches, especially in Europe has blossomed over the past thirty years and deserves criminological attention. Football hooliganism is criminal activity, but is unique because of its context specific nature, occurring almost entirely inside the grounds or in proximity to the stadiums where the matches are played. This project explores the need for criminological explanations of football hooligans and their behavior based on literature which indicates that subcultural theories may be valuable in understanding why this behavioral pattern has become a preserve for young, white, working-class males. This study employs Albert Cohen's (1955) theory of subcultural delinquency to predict the hooligan activities of young, white, working-class males. West and Farrington's longitudinal study, the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development provides a wealth of data on numerous topics, including hooliganism, and is used to explore the link between hooliganism and criminological theory. The running hypothesis, grounded in Cohen's theory of subcultural delinquency, is that the less middle-class the youths are in their values the more likely they will be to engage in football hooliganism. Cohen initially identified a locus of nine middle-class values: ambition, individual responsibility, achievement and performance, delayed gratification, rationality and planning, etiquette and the cultivation of social skills, self-control, wholesome leisure, and respect for property. These middle-class values have been modified into a shorter set of values; constructive leisure, acceptable conduct, self-reliance, and success, that are more mutually exclusive and easier to test empirically. Scales were constructed for each dimension of the modified version of Cohen's middle-class values using factor analysis with orthogonal rotation. Each scale then underwent reliability analysis using Chronbach's alpha. From there the scales for the middle-class values, the dependent variable of football hooliganism, and controls were tested using both bivariate and multivariate procedures. Results indicate that these modified middle-class values may be an important explanatory factor for football hooliganism.
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